Early this year I was looking at my own pics from 2017 and realized that I was less squishy than I used to be at the start of the year. I was determined that this summer I would do more positive activities. Nico, ever the enabler, was more than being cooperative toward my determination. We did so many outdoor activities this summer; we hiked more summits, trekked more trails, and walked more paths than we ever did last year. All these were to reduce my squishiness. Did it work? Not really, but that’s not the point. Well, actually it was the point but it didn’t work much and I am still squishy, so let’s talk about something else…
One of my fav summer outdoor activities this year was kayaking. I have a love/hate relationship with kayaking. I was once engulfed by the wave and almost got capsized while sea kayaking in Bali (hated it), and swept away and almost slammed onto rocks while kayaking in New Brunswick (hated it, I almost died for pickle sake!). I enjoyed kayaking on calmer waters tho, like on lakes or on rivers (calm stream). In fact, I loved it. So, when Nico took me to do kayaking at Bras du Nord, I was excited.
Vallée Bras du Nord
Vallée Bras du Nord is one of the best spots for outdoor activities in summer and winter not far from Quebec City. It is located 45 minutes drive away from downtown Quebec toward the mountains in the Portneuf region. Have I ever told you that 45 minutes is an average time to drive from downtown Quebec to the closest parks? Well, it is. Quebec City is surrounded with parks with valleys and mountains. The city itself lays on a flatland, and that makes the sky look extremely wide.
Vallée Bras du Nord is famous for catering to those outdoor junkies wanting to spend their spare time. Okay, that sounds just wrong, junkies I meant are those outdoor activities enthusiasts, not the ones who are addicted to doing drugs outdoor. Why am I even explaining this?... This park offers loads of activities; single or multi day hiking, mountain biking trails, kayaking, camping, etc.
Kayaking at Vallée Bras du Nord
Kayaking in this valley is actually pretty easy, technically speaking. We will just be kayaking down the stream of Bras du Nord river and the rapids are pretty smooth. They call it R1 type of rapids in the professional word of kayaking, while I call it amateur bumps. These amateur bumps require an amateur skill of kayaking (e.g: my kayaking skill), so all of you should be fine.
The activity starts with a quick 5 minute course on kayaking, the do's and dont's, and a form signing to discharge them of anything happening to you. If you take the suttle, you will then be dropped near the river and given all the required equipement; the kayak you rented, life vest and paddles. Fashion is not part of kayaking.
The water is pretty calm with banks of sands where we can stop anytime and have a picnic when the weather is nice.
On some parts of the river, especially in summer, the water gets so low your kayak may actually get stuck between rocks and you have to drag it to a deeper part of the river.
The river flows in between steep mountains offering majestic panorama. Along the way, you can also visit the rocky Delaney waterfall on the right side of the river. You won’t miss it, there will a wooden sign that indicates where to stop for taking a quick trekking to the waterfall, or simply look out for parked kayaks on the right.
The thing with this kayaking route is the distance; it’s 17,5 KM long with no exit in between. It takes about 3 to 6 hours to finish this route depending on the rapids, the water volume, and upper arms strength. There are wooden signs that indicate each KM along the way. After KM 10, your upper arms and shoulder might start to shout for help. Unfortunately, there is no escape from this one, you have no choice but to row all the way to the exit.
When we finally got to the exit, I couldn’t help but getting a sense of accomplishment. Then I saw this sign, which literally says:
"Acceuil CANTIN , FIN SECTION Facile"
Translated to : "Cantin Reception, end of route, easy."
It felt like a great accomplishment to me for finishing the whole 17,5KM of non-stop rowing !
Yet they categorize it as an easy level ride.
Single or Double Kayak?
Double kayak, please! I hate to see Nico on his own kayak confidently rowing away out of my sight while I huff, chuff, and whiff trying to catch to him if we take a single kayak for each of us. My upper arms have the endurance of cooked spaghetti.
Double kayak requires good communication, strong understanding, and teamwork because there is only one person that has the control to steer the kayak, and the other one is merely being a paddler. Taking this kind of kayak can put a strain even on a solid relationship, be careful of who you are sharing your double kayak with.
• To get there: there is no public transport to this area apart from taxi and uber. Yeah, I know, bummer.
• Tariffs: was CAD 67 for a double kayak on work days and CAD 83 on weekend when this was written. Here is the full price guide.
• Reserving in advance is a must for renting the kayak and shuttle service.
• The kayak starts at the upper part of the stream at Shanahan Entrance and ends at Cantin Entrance. You can park your car at the Cantin entrance and take a shuttle service (free, included in tariff) that will drive you all the way up to Shanahan.
• You can always drive up to Shanahan but bear in mind that you will have to walk back to your car in Shanahan from Cantin entrance when you're done.
• Start as early as possible since last kayak embarkation is at 1 PM and it takes 3 to 6 hours to finish.
• Bringing food and drinks (even alcohol, responsible amount) are allowed but keep your garbage with you.
• Bring a dry bag for your electronics, just in case your kayak is tipped over by accident or you get rained on.• Sunglasses are also great on sunny days, with the sun reflecting on water, it can be tough on the eyes.
Below is the distance between the starting point and the finishing point if you take shuttle.